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Review: Minolta MC Rokkor PF 55mm 1:1.7

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 55mm 1:1.7 lens review (‘Hills&Valleys/Knurled’ design, or ‘MC-II’ style by collectors classification).

It is difficult to predict the test results by lenses with average specifications. Sometimes they can give us surprises because are working better than more powerful sisters. This Minolta 55/1.7 also has such a chance: it is not ultra-fast and not from the top-end of the products line, but F1.7 still sufficient for a photographer. And the one more nice feature – low price makes it affordable for everyone.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually, it helps me a lot to start using an unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

MCC5517__exterior_652.jpg

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 55mm F/1.7 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 118
Name engraved on lens MC ROKKOR-PF
f 55
A max 1.7
A min 16
Elements 6
Groups 5
Filter thread 52
Lens Shade D52ND
close 0.5/1.75
Dimension 63×37
Weight 230
Year 1970
Style MC II
Code No. 632-2xx
Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 25-40
Reviewed Lens SN: 2716204

This is the second and final reincarnation of Rokkor 55/1.7. Previously on this focal distance, Minolta has produced lenses with max F1.8, later they switched to 50mm only. With this particular characteristics – 55mm 1:1.7 – the just two exist: the first “flat” and the later “knurled” (MC-I and MC-II by collectors classification). The difference is in the shape of focusing rings, but it needs to be remembered that 60′-70′ was a period of permanent changes and better to admit that even lenses with close serials may show a different behavior until proven otherwise. Unfortunately, all these 55/1.7 aren’t popular and I have not enough information.



Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

On Minolta SR-T 101 – this set is authentic, both camera and lens were in production in the same period of time:


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-200, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Hitomi Tsukishiro 15 2print.jpg

Scene preview:

MCC5517__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC5517__c_res_close.jpg


Sharpness – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-50. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

MCC5517__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC5517__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCC5517__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5517_geometry_74.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5517__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5517__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.45m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less, see the next Test#2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5517__k_bokeh_far_min_0_55m_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5517__k_bokeh_far_mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.45m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography the blur level will be less – see Test #2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5517__m_dots_far_1min_0_55m_NEW.png

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5517__m_dots_far_2mid_2_0m_NEW.png


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC Rokkor PF 55MM F1.7:

AvatarReview_MCC5517.png

My first expression was “what an elegant shape”. The lens is built by “glass and steel” but opposite to many other MC generation lenses it looks and weighs not as a tank. Graceful – is the nice word to describe it.

The lens saves the ‘easy to fix’ ability and may be fully reassembled with a minimal set of tools and skills. Not regarding this Rokkor but to many other classic lenses I suggest to pay attention for lenses with some fungus or oiled apertures because it can significantly drop a price but many lenses from 60′-80′ have a simple construction and can be cleaned without affecting of photos. But be careful – need to understand what is under the hood before purchasing a ‘lens with questions’ – some of them require professional hands. This particular copy was acquired with a slight fog inside and oiled aperture blades and has been cleaned.

The resolution and aberrations are not strong sides of Minolta MC 55mm F1.7. Not bad but not something special. The sharpness distribution over the frame became enough good just for F5.6 – here the lens is very sharp and may be used for any photographer’s tasks.

Better to avoid wide opened F1.7 for any tasks. Except… The portrait is the only photography style for which I can recommend this lens without doubts. To be honest, at first glance on test results I wasn’t impressed by the abilities of this lens, but the sharpest pixels are not all that we want to get. Here is the unpredictable case: the wide opened F1.7 gives a magic result for 2-3 meters distance – a little swirly bokeh with the nice underlining of an object and balanced sharpness for a skin. By the way – “swirly bokeh” isn’t an often case for Minolta lenses, so this lens may be interesting for fans just because of unusual behavior.

Note: ‘swirly bokeh’ is not an advantage or a disadvantage – it’s just a lens feature and may be good or bad depends on using

As a result: this Rokkor 55/1.7 isn’t a universal lens from the modern point of view and I can’t suggest it to everyone because of some issues, but it is one of the cheapest ‘bokeh-kings’ which may provide the beautiful portraits. And don’t forget about the nice F5.6. I recommend to try it wide opened in a real photo-session with a good object and a good background.


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